STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
MARBLE FALLS — When Colt Elementary School teacher Sonja Marroquin first heard Jennifer Jones, she immediately knew she wanted her colleagues to feel what she felt.
“She has so much motivation, so much energy,” Marroquin said. “She teaches from the heart. You need to teach with energy. I observed that she taught from the heart.”
Jones presented “Teaching with URGENCY!” on Aug. 20 at the Marble Falls school. The event was funded through the Grants for Great Ideas program, part of the Marble Falls Education Foundation. Marroquin and teachers Sylvia Villarreal and Angeleca Palacio had to apply for the grant in the spring.
Jones, creator of HelloLiteracy.com, is a reading specialist for kindergarten through 12th grade, a staff developer for English as a Second Language classes, a blogger, and a Teachers Pay Teachers teacher. Jones has written several books for educators designed to give tips, suggestions, and other help in inspiring their students to read.
Marroquin noted that Marble Falls Independent School District teachers already know how to get their students to spend time reading books, so the gathering wasn’t so much about learning how to embolden children to read as much as it was about examining other effective strategies.
That’s something Leslie Baty, the school district’s director of elementary education, appreciated.
“I’m about structure of time during the day,” she said. “We’re helping teachers know how to best use that time effectively.”
Jones pointed out that each student has a genre they prefer to read, and the best way to get children to read is to allow them to choose books that interest and excite them. When they do that, the enjoyment of reading follows, she said.
“We really need to let kids self-select,” Jones said. “What (teachers) like doesn’t matter.”
Jones had a simple explanation about why she has been able to connect with educators across the country.
“I’m very passionate about what I do,” Jones said. “I love kids, and you have to love kids.”